President Donald Trump now claims he was being “sarcastic” when he mused on Thursday about disinfectant injections being a possible miracle cure for the coronavirus.
Unfortunately for him, there’s video.
Asked during a White House bill-signing ceremony on Friday to explain his comments — which were widely mocked for being ridiculous and more than a little irresponsible, became the top trending topic on Twitter, and prompted warnings from health agencies that it’s actually a bad idea to inject or consume bleach — Trump tried to rewrite history.
“I was asking a sarcastic, and a very sarcastic question, to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside,” Trump lied. In reality, he was looking at White House officials when he earnestly asked them to investigate whether there’s “a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”
Notably, even as he tried to distance himself from his remarks, Trump illustrated his fundamental inability to ever admit a mistake by continuing to defend his premise.
Disinfectant “does kill it, and it would kill it on the hands, and that would make things much better,” Trump said.
Watch the two clips back to back for yourself:
Here's a mashup of Trump claiming today he was just asking "a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room" when he mused about disinfectant injections as a possible coronavirus miracle cure, followed by the original clip showing beyond a doubt that he was not doing that. pic.twitter.com/wby4ucd59Q— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 24, 2020
Asked later on Friday if he wanted to clarify his comments for people who might have misunderstood his “sarcasm,” Trump reiterated, “I do think that disinfectant on the hands could have a very good effect.”
But that’s entirely beside the point. Trump’s bizarre comments during Thursday’s White House press briefing came after a Department of Homeland Security official presented research indicating that “commonly available disinfectants work to kill the virus” on surfaces. At no point did he suggest using them on human hands.
That’s likely because 1) disinfectants contain harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritation and even chemical burns, and 2) soap and hand sanitizer already exist.
When his disinfectant remarks came up for a third time on Friday, Trump seemed to get lost in his own lies, got corrected by a reporter about what the video shows him actually saying, and then abruptly ended the press event.
TRUMP: I was looking at you yesterday when I was being sarcastic about disinfectants— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 24, 2020
JEFF MASON: I wasn't there yesterday
ANOTHER REPORTER: You were looking at Dr Birx
TRUMP: I was looking at Bill, the doctor, I was looking at some of the reporters
*changes topic* pic.twitter.com/h8VxIknuey
The scene was a quintessential example of gaslighting. Instead of simply admitting he said something dumb, Trump told people they didn’t see what they saw, then shut things down when reporters began to call him out on his contradictions.
The scene was reminiscent of his efforts to retcon his 2016 call for Russian hackers to attack Hillary Clinton as just “a joke,” even when a cursory review of video from that press conference showed, beyond a doubt, that he was being serious.
Trump, however, has already primed his supporters to disbelieve their senses and just listen to him.
“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” Trump said during a 2018 speech. “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”